Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

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Skylights featured nine times on Earth Science Picture of the Day: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 -- Full List Restored!


Photo of the Week..Dim rosy moonrise.

Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, October 21, 2016.

d The next skylights will appear November 18, 2016.

Daylight Time ends on Sunday, November 6, so the clocks get turned back an hour. All times below are standard.

We first see a bit of the fat waxing crescent Moon, the phase terminated at first quarter on Monday, November 7, shortly after moonset in North America. It then grows and brightens rapidly through waxing gibbous to full phase on Monday the 14th again just past moonset. By the time the moon (the Frosty Moon, the Beaver Moon) rises that night it will already be in the waning gibbous, which shrinks through the rest of the fortnight until last quarter is passed on Monday the 21st with the Moon climbing the eastern sky, following which it thins in the waning crescent.

The Moon passes perigee, where it is closest to the Earth on Monday the 14th, just three hours before full for a sort of "supermoon," which is visually not noticeable but that will bring especially high and low tides to the coasts. Thanks to the Sun's gravity and other factors, the Moon's orbit is not quite elliptical, which slightly changes the distance at perigee, this one being especially close (356,509 km, 221,525 miles), closer than at any time until 2020.

The night of Monday the 14th, the near-full Moon will lie near the tip the "vee" that makes the head of Taurus the Bull as it enters the Hyades star cluster, the stars rendered near invisible by the Moon except perhaps for Aldebaran, which will lie just above the Moon (and is not actually a part of the cluster), the Moon occulting the star after moonset.

Mars still hangs around a bit after sunset. Falling only slowly behind the Earth with sunset getting earlier, the planet will set around 9:30 PM for the rest of the year. The Moon will appear to the northwest of the planet the evening of Saturday the 5th, to the northeast of it the following night. Venus quite overwhelms the red planet, Getting higher each evening, it sets in the southwest an hour after twilight as our period ends. We then wait the rest of the night for Jupiter, which rises around 4 AM at the beginning of our period, an hour later at the end. The Moon will appear to the west of Jupiter the morning of Thursday the 24th, to the east the following morning.

The Leonid meteor shower, which traditionally hits the morning of November 17th, will produce very little activity, most of which will be destroyed by the bright Moon. The shower is the debris of Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which has a 33-year period around the Sun and long-since passed by.

The summer constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius disappear to the west. Look now for that great sign of fall, the lonely star Fomalhaut of Piscis Austrinus (the Southern Fish), which crosses the southern horizon in mid-evening. Directly above lies the zodiacal constellation Aquarius with its "Y"-shaped water jar. If you are far enough south, you might meet Grus, the Crane, which indeed looks like a giant bird stalking the horizon in advance of Fomalhaut.
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